Archive for April 15th, 2007

Arsenal 2 – 1 Bolton: Hidden quality finally emerges

375 comments April 15th, 2007

At last!Yesterday was a day on which Arsenal needed several key players to stand up and be counted. In a 2-1 victory over Bolton that could’ve and perhaps should’ve been more, no-one should taller than nineteen-year old Cesc Fabregas.

Apologies to those of you who thought this article’s headline might refer to me finally pulling out some decent writing. Sadly not. I will however endeavour to bring you the positives from a performance that has banished a lot of the bad feeling around the club in recent weeks.

In midfield, Rosicky and Fabregas were outstanding. Both put in some hefty challenges defensively, but it was going forward where they really shone, showing a drive to get into the box and have efforts on goal that has been lacking… well, all season really.

Having fallen behind to an Anelka goal (who else), Rosicky’s goal was decidely un-Arsenal – these days, that’s pretty much a compliment: it was un-frustrating, un-Hleb, and decidely un-pass-it-around-then-miss-from-a-yard. A swift one-two and cross from Emmanuel Adebayor allowed Rosicky to nip in front of Nicky Hunt and finish from within the six-yard box – Bobby Pires would’ve been proud.

Cesc’s goal was clinical, but in a less opportunistic manner. A brilliant throughball from Gilberto was controlled, shimmied, and ultimately stroked into the net for the coolest of finishes. In the matchday programme, Alex Hleb had spoken about the need for Arsenal to show more “coldbloodedness”, and Cesc’s goal was just what the Belarussian ordered. His celebration was anything but coldblooded – the frustrations of a year without a Premiership goal spilling out in a flurry of double-punches.

Cesc and Rosicky’s verve was backed up by a solid performance from Gilberto. Arsene obviously made a decision to deploy the Brazilian in the vicinity of Gael Clichy, to protect the young full-back from the aerial power of Kevin Davies. A wise move, but as it turned out Clichy was excellent in his own right – he goes to win the ball early, and if he fails his recovery pace is second to none.

Upfront Freddie Ljungberg and Emmanuel Adebayor did well, the latter in particular showing some great hold-up play, and substitute Abou Diaby could have had a hatrick. Diaby was again selected upfront ahead of Jeremie Aliadiere and Julio Baptista, who was shunted out to the left for his brief cameo. Perhaps that explains why when Diaby went clean through on goal, Baptista seemed to try and muscle him off the ball…

There were negatives in yesterday’s performance. There’s plenty I could say about Hleb, Eboue, and possibly others, but what’s the point? We already know this squad isn’t perfect. We already know there need to be changes in the Summer, and we must place our faith in the manager’s judgement on that. The transfer deadline for this season is long gone, and we must simply make do and support what we have. Celebrating this victory doesn’t mean we will forget the crimes of the past couple of months, but equally there’s no need to be negative in light of a valuable three points.

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Cesc Fabregas
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